Meeting with the manager after the Nats' 8-0 win

VIERA, Fla. - Davey Johnson has said it multiple times throughout the first few weeks of Nationals spring training, and he said it again after today's win over the Astros: He likes what Brett Carroll brings to the table.

Carroll, a 29-year-old utilityman who has just a .203 career average in 175 major league games, continues to impress his manager this spring. He boosted his Grapefruit League average to .417 by going 1-for-2 with a double and two walks today. Carroll also scored a run and picked up an RBI on a sixth-inning ground out.

"I've said all along - I really like what I'm seeing there," Johnson said of Carroll. "Good player, very versatile. Good defensively, good approach at the plate. Plays the game hard. He's certainly in the mix."

Ryan Zimmerman hit the ball hard all three times to the plate today, hitting a solo home run in his first plate appearance, grounding out on a ball ripped off the leg of Astros starter Livan Hernandez, and then smacking an RBI single in the fifth.

Both the home run and the single were hit to the opposite field.

"As far as I'm concerned, (he's) swinging like opening day right now," Johnson said. "He sure looks that comfortable."

Johnson confirmed that right fielder Bryce Harper will probably sit out the next 2-3 days after he woke up with tightness in his left calf.

Still, Johnson expects Harper to be nipping at his heels the next couple days, trying to get himself back in the lineup.

"He'll probably be bugging me," Johnson said. "But it's a long spring. No hurry."

Unfortunately, Harper's injury means he'll more than likely miss Saturday's split-squad game against the Tigers, in which he would have faced Detroit's ace and the reigning AL MVP, Justin Verlander.

Johnson joked that the timing of this calf injury might not be a coincidence.

"He's sitting on that average and ducking Verlander," Johnson said.

Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com's Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site's deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the "George Michael Sports Machine" in Washington, D.C.

Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko

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